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Gastrointestinal Symptoms Common in Fibromyalgia

Last Updated: April 16, 2009.

A large majority of individuals with fibromyalgia also had functional gastrointestinal disorders, which may be related to psychological distress, according to research published in the April issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

THURSDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- A large majority of individuals with fibromyalgia also had functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID), which may be related to psychological distress, according to research published in the April issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Cristina Almansa, M.D., of the Hospital Clinico San Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and colleagues analyzed data from 100 patients with fibromyalgia and 100 controls. All completed the Rome II Integrative Questionnaire, to determine gastrointestinal symptoms and FGID, and the Symptom Checklist-90 Revised for psychological distress. Controls also completed the Chronic Widespread Pain Questionnaire to detect potential fibromyalgia cases.

Most fibromyalgia patients (98 percent) had at least one FGID, compared to 39 percent of controls, the investigators found. The strongest association with fibromyalgia was with irritable bowel syndrome, functional bloating and functional fecal incontinence. Those with fibromyalgia had higher levels of somatization, obsessivity, anxiety and depression, the researchers report.

"An interesting hypothesis that could support the striking prevalence of FGID in patients with fibromyalgia would be an increased visceral sensitivity added to the somatic hypersensitivity characteristic of fibromyalgia in certain patients, which may make them more vulnerable to report gastrointestinal symptoms. Previous studies have shown enhanced visceral sensitivity in patients with irritable bowel syndrome when compared with fibromyalgia and healthy subjects, in contrast to patients with fibromyalgia who present with increased somatic sensitivity," the authors write.

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